Enable Dual Channel RAM to Speed Up Your PC

How to Enable Dual Channel RAM

If you want to configure a computer with 16 Gigabytes of RAM, I recommend that you buy two identical 8 Gigabytes of RAM instead of one 16 gigabyte RAM module. Do you know why? Let me explain to you the principle of dual channel RAM in detail.

What is the Dual Channel RAM?

The dual channel mode helps reduce the potential performance block that exists between the memory controller and CPU. It is enabled by the same size memory modules that are installed into the matching memory banks. In most cases, combining memory modules of different sizes in the same machine is compatible and won't affect its stability.

Dual-Channel Mode

In this, the CPU interacts with the data in the hard disk through the memory. Ultimately, it doubles the dual-channel RAM slot width, which then doubles the performance boost and improves the performance of the memory.

The dual-channel RAM is a version of the multi-channel memory that helps increase data transfer speed by adding more communication channels. The RAM on the memory module communicates with the computer through the CPU and central processing through a bus. A bus is a connection between components connected to a computer. Some motherboards run triple-channel architecture. This uses interleaving that assigns memory addresses to the memory.

What Support is Required to Trigger a Dual Channel?

The dual channels double the peak bandwidth over equivalent systems that only offer single memory channels. Most of the dual channels allow the user to run the system in a single or dual-channel mode.

The two factors that can trigger a dual-channel are the motherboard and the CPU. The motherboards are normally marked whether or not your motherboard supports dual channels. Let's take this Gigabite B450M as an example, and it shows that the product allows dual channels;

Gigabite B450M specification

However, for the CPU, you look at the memory controller. Check the maximum number of memory channels your CPU can support.

For example, intel's i9-9900K has a dual-channel,  a maximum memory of 128GB, and uses the DDR 4 type.

intel i9-9900K Memory specification

You can check the memory support of your CPU on both CPU manufacturer’s websites.

Intel                                                                                  AMD

Memory Bandwidth Calculation

Memory Bandwidth

Bandwidth = RAM frequency *Memory bus width * Multiplier factor

  • The frequency is the number marked on the memory stick
  • The memory bus is the number of channels through which data is exchanged
  • The multiplier depends on the memory version (DD2, DDR3, and DDR4).

The Dual Data Rate(DDR) transfers two bits of data per clock cycle from the memory array to the internal input or output. The DDR2 operates external data twice as fast as the DDR due to improved bus signal. It also operates on the same internal clock speed as DDR.

The DDR2 brings a reduction in power consumption. The voltage is reduced to 1.5V. The reduced usage leads to lower operating currents and voltages. DDR4 is the latest generation and offers higher transfer rates with an operating voltage of 1.2V. It can process multiple data requests within a clock cycle.

How to Enable Dual Channel RAM Mode?

If you only have two slots on your motherboard, plug in two memory sticks to form a dual-channel architecture. The dual-channel architecture is a technology implemented on motherboards by their manufacturers. Hence, any matched pair of memory modules can be used in a single or dual channel.

Here is my motherboard manual to explain. There are 4 slots on the motherboard. A1 and B1 are the first channels, and A2 and B2 are the second channels.

Dual Channel Mode installation

It consists of dual channels, which generally require interlaced installations such as the A1 and B1 memory slots or at the A2 and B2 slots. These can trigger the dual channels. However, to ensure the stability of the system, it is recommended to use the A2 and B2 slots. However, they are far away from the CPU to ensure data transmission is not affected.

I greatly recommend that you use the memory chip of the same manufacturer and model. In this way, the frequency and capacity of the RAM will remain consistent with maximizing performance.

Performance Difference

The dual channels do not experience much of a speed change with small software like Skype, but with large software like Photoshop and 3Dmax turned on, the 3D games are significantly improved. I will illustrate this with playtest data.

This is where I have been testing the game. The dual-channel has an FPS effect on the game. The left side has a single 8GB memory, the middle one has a double 8GB memory but doesn't trigger a dual channel. On the right side, it has a double 8GB memory that triggers a dual channel.

The Odyssey

The Odyssey

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5

You will note that in the case of triggered dual channel, the game's FPS is averagely about 20 FPS higher. It is a direct upgrade to your graphics card without paying a fee for a performance boost.

Asymmetric Double Channel

Can memory chips of different sizes form two channels? The answer is yes because it is an asymmetric double channel. The whole 4G and the front half of 8G are grouped into two channels, while the 8G back half is divided into one channel.

Asymmetric double channel

As you can see in the above image, the entire 4Gigabite memory chip and the front half of the 8 Gigabyte memory chip are grouped into two channels. On the other hand, the back part of the 8 Gigabyte memory chip is a single channel. One of the problems with asymmetrical dual channels is that the system doesn't necessarily use the dual-channel part first. Hence, Windows doesn't use the dual-channel part first just because you have 4G. Instead, it stores the data randomly. When you run the software, the response time is fast and slow.

FAQ on Dual-channel RAM

1. Is there a quad-channel memory?

Yes, but generally used on large server platforms and HEDT platforms, not personal PCs. There are dual-channel, quad-channel, six channels, and eight channels. However, the six channels and eight channels are mainly for servers.

2. How do I check if I triggered dual channels?

You can use the CPU-Z in the “Memory” column to check the number of channels. It should show dual channels.

3. What is Multi-channel memory architecture?

It is the technology that increases the data transfer rate between the DRAM memory and memory controller. This is done by adding more channels of communication between them.

Final Thoughts

If it is only for general office work and surfing the Internet, 8G of memory is enough; use 4+4 dual channels. If you're a game user, use 16GB which is 8+8 dual channels. If you're a video effects maker, go for 32GB, which is 16+16 dual channels. If you have a computer that supports dual-channel mode, it is better to buy two memory modules than a single one. This is because it has double the capacity, and the maximum bandwidth doubles as the modules are simultaneously accessed.

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